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New releases: 'Dallas Buyers Club,' 'The Broken Circle Breakdown'

EntertainmentMoviesAcademy AwardsDallas Buyers ClubThe Act of Killing (movie)HIV - AIDSMatthew McConaughey

Dallas Buyers Club

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

As the Oscars approach, some of this year's big contenders are starting to show up on home video, including this best picture based on the true story of self-medicating Texas AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who started slinging drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to people who were similarly suffering. As both a drama and a period piece (set in the mid-1980s), "Dallas Buyers Club" tries too hard to be a crowd-pleaser, to make the audience feel superior to the doctors and bigots who stood in the way of Ron and his customers. But Oscar-nominated Matthew McConaughey is riveting as the bone-skinny, homophobic rodeo rider Ron, and Oscar-nominated Jared Leto is just as memorable as a pre-operative transsexual who teaches Ron compassion. Their chemistry is complex and personal and defies the clichés that litter the rest of the film. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and a brief featurette.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2014Complete list of winners

The Broken Circle Breakdown

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

A nominee for foreign language film at this year's Academy Awards, Felix van Groeningen's Belgian melodrama stars Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens as folk musicians who fall in love, have a child and then have trouble sustaining their relationship when the child is diagnosed with a terminal disease. The film adapts a song cycle that Heldenbergh had conceived with Mieke Dobbels, and though Van Groeningen builds it out into a sprawling saga that jumps around the timeline — contrasting the couple's happier times with their misery — the core of the project remains the bluegrass-inflected score, which ties the problems of two lovers to a long tradition of hard times.

Cutie and the Boxer

Starz/Anchor Bay, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

Outside of "The Act of Killing," the most unusual documentary Oscar nominee this year would have to be Zachary Heinzerling's film about the troubled but enduring relationship between avant-garde painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko, whose career is beginning to eclipse his. A sensitive, provocative look at the creative process and how some people are bound by more than romantic love, "Cutie and the Boxer" introduces two colorful, memorable characters and then deepens our understanding of who they are. The DVD and Blu-ray go further via deleted scenes and more in-depth looks at Ushio Shinohara's art.

PHOTOS: Box office top 10 of 2013

Mother of George

Oscilloscope, $32.99; Blu-ray, $34.99

Those who know Danai Gurira only as the blade-wielding zombie-killer Michonne on "The Walking Dead" might be surprised by her performance in this arty indie drama in which she plays a Nigerian immigrant dealing with the difficulties of running a Brooklyn restaurant alongside her husband (Isaach de Bankolé), while the two keep failing to conceive a child. Director Andrew Dosunmu and cinematographer Bradford Young render Darci Picoult's script with more visual abstraction than the story requires, but Gurira holds down the center of the film, revealing her character's stresses and aspirations often through facial expressions and posture alone. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes, featurettes and a commentary track.

And …

About Time

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

Baggage Claim

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Escape Plan

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

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PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Faces to watch 2014 | Movies ENVELOPE: The latest awards buzz DOCUMENTARIES: 10 best of 2013, and a new crop in 2014

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EntertainmentMoviesAcademy AwardsDallas Buyers ClubThe Act of Killing (movie)HIV - AIDSMatthew McConaughey
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